How Does Air Conditioning Work Anyway?

Air conditioning units create that cool air we love so much on a hot day using something called refrigerant. A refrigerant is a compound that absorbs heat and provides refrigeration when combined with other components like compressors and evaporators.

The refrigerant is contained inside copper coils within your air conditioning unit. As it takes in the heat from the indoor air, it transitions from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. It then is sent back out where a fan blows it over the coils.

It cools down turning back into that low-pressure gas while another fan blows air over the cool coils that then distribute the cold air throughout your home. And then, the process repeats.

Because of the impact of refrigerants through the years on the environment, many changes have been made and many refrigerants have either ceased to exist or are in a phase-out stage. In fact, those air conditioners that use hydrofluorocarbons including R410A and R134 have replaced Hydrochlorofluorocarbons like R22 as they are even safer for the environment and are more efficient.  These newer refrigerants also provide better air quality and improved reliability.

Having said all that, there are still rules established by the EPA when it comes to handling refrigerant. Only licensed heating, ventilation and air conditioning companies can purchase refrigerant and technicians must do their best to recapture, recycle and dispose of the refrigerant safely and according to the EPA’s disposal rules. Leaks must be repaired within 30 days, so be sure to have a regular maintenance plan for your air conditioning unit.

Think you might need to upgrade based on the type of refrigerant your air conditioning unit may be using?

Take a look at the unit on the outside of your home. You should see a place where it will tell you what kind of refrigerant is being used within the unit. If it says R22, then you’re cooling your home with outdated refrigerant. While you aren’t required to upgrade immediately according to the EPA, repair costs could be higher than they are worth if your unit springs a leak. You can’t simply change out the refrigerant as the older equipment doesn’t support the newer R410A refrigerant.

If you think it might be time to just make the investment of the upgrade, call a professional and get a solid opinion and price.  Upgrading will create better efficiency, safety, and reliability.

And, as always, if you have any questions, give us a call!